Saturday, 25 January 2014

Squash, Date and Apricot Muffins

Here we go again, another squash recipe.  That's how it swings when you grow your own food, it's all or nothing.  I have to start using up my stock of squashes or they will eventually go rotten, although, quite often I am still eating last years squashes well into the next summer season.  These muffins also freeze well.

Makes about 24 Muffins

Dry ingredients mixed together
650 g  plain flour
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon salt
250 g sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon of vanilla sugar

Wet ingredients mixed together
2 eggs
500 ml buttermilk
160 ml oil ( I used olive oil but you could use rapeseed or sunflower)
1 large tablespoon of molasses

400 g grated squash of your choice
50 g toasted almonds, finely chopped
60 g dates, finely chopped
60 g dried apricots; finely chopped

How to go about it

Preheat the oven to 180°c.  Use a muffin tin and put paper cases in each mold.  Mix wet and dry ingredients together than fold in squash, nuts and dried fruit.  Fill paper cases to the brim and bake for 35 minutes, insert skewer in center to see if they are cooked, it should come out clean.

Leave to cool before eating.

Squash Gnocchi with Mandarin, Lemon and Saffron sauce with Cavolo Nero and crumbed Roquefort

A different way to make gnocchi, the sweetness of the squash is offset by the citrus and salty Roquefort, it all seems to come together nicely and is not so difficult to make.

Serves 4


About 800 g of squash of your choice
Up to 500 g of fine semolina flour
2 eggs
Large pinch of saffron
1 mandarin
Half a lemon
50 g Roquefort cheese
50 ml extra virgin olive oil
100 ml boiling water
100 g cavolo nero
Salt and Pepper

How to go about it

First cut the squash into wedges and place on a baking tray and bake for about 25 mins in a hot oven 200° c. It should be still firm but cooked.  While the squash is cooking put the grated rind of the mandarin and lemon in a bowl along with their juice.  Bring the 100 ml of water to the boil and add the saffron, let it infuse for 5 minutes off the heat and then add this to the juice.  Stir in the olive oil, keep this sauce warm until ready to serve.

When squash is cool enough to handle peel off the skin and pass it through a potato ricer or mash it. Mix in 2 eggs and half a teaspoon of salt, a good grinding of black pepper.

Mix in the fine semolina flour until you are able to form it into a thin sausage shape on a heavily floured work surface, cut it into small pieces.

Finely shred the cavolo nero and have ready a frying pan with a tablespoon of olive oil.  Bring a saucepan of water to the boil and add gnocchi, give it a gentle stir to make sure it is not stuck on the bottom.  It will cook in 2 - 3 minutes, when it rises to the top take it out with a slotted spoon, you can cook it in batches if you like.

Heat the frying pan on high heat and flash fry the cavolo nero until wilted.   Mix in the citrus and saffron sauce with the gnocchi making sure that it is all coated with it, top with the cavolo nero and crumb over the Roquefort cheese.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Squash and Fennel Soup

In the winter there are two vegetables I have loads of and to tell you the truth I get a bit bored with them so I thought I'd zing this soup up with a bit of ginger.  Also, instead of liquidizing it I have left it chunky and rustic. I have loads of squashes which are stored in straw-filled crates for winter and fennel still growing.  There are many versions of this soup, and lots call for roasting the vegetables, in mine they are cooked slowly in a Spanish cast-iron pot called a Puchero.  You can use any type of pan but you must cook it very slowly, the ingredients have to be totally cooked before adding the liquid.

Serves 2 - 4


2 large fennel bulbs
Half a large squash, butternut or Muscade de Provence
Half a thumb size piece of fresh ginger
Pinch of chilli flakes
2 cloves of garlic
Small bunch of fresh coriander
Salt and pepper to taste
Water or stock

How to go about it

Wash and chop fennel into small pieces, peel and cube squash.  Put these into your chosen pan with a good slug of olive oil. Grate ginger, finely chop garlic and roughly chop coriander and add to the pan, season with salt and pepper.  Cook gently until the vegetables are soft and melting, about 25 mins.  Then add enough water or light stock to make a thick soup.  You will find the flavors have concentrated and usually water is sufficient to give a lovely natural tasting soup.